With dramatically rising home prices and massive housing shortages, Central Oregon is in an extreme housing crisis. Through the help of federal funding, 90 affordable homes have been added to Central Oregon’s housing stock by way of the Red Canyon Affordable Housing Developments. The unique portfolio included two projects (Rolling Sage and Canyon Edge) in two cities spread across three sites, with construction finishing during a global pandemic and tragic wildfires.

Teamwork made this project a true success. Quick decision-making by the client allowed the team to fast-track the design schedule and submitted for permitting before an increased permit fee rate in Redmond, saving $130,000. The collaborative design process between the Housing Works, Pinnacle Architecture, and R&H Construction met the client’s goals by maximizing the units on each side, creating community space, and designing welcoming, low-maintenance homes. The pandemic hit during construction which could have derailed the projects, but instead, R&H quickly responded with COVID-19 safety protocol leading to zero incidents. Part of those protocols included moving all team site visits to virtual and using video technology to problem solve onsite and deliver the projects with limited delays.

Rolling Sage Apartments, Madras

Located just 45 minutes north of Bend, Madras provides outdoor recreation opportunities sought by travelers and local community members such as fishing, golfing, hiking, and water sports. Madras’s workforce includes a mix of industry, agriculture, and recreation. With a steady increase of tourists and families looking for new opportunities, the demand for affordable housing has heightened. A barrier to housing development in Madras is a shortage of land designated specifically for multifamily development. The city’s support of affordable housing allowed for quick permitting, and the donation of an acre of land adjacent to the project for a community park.

Rolling Sage Apartments is situated just north of the commercial district and adjacent to Canyon East, an affordable housing community built in 2010 for low-income farmworkers, also designed by Pinnacle and owned by Housing Works. The design maximizes the 1.27-acre lot and two three-story buildings designed with an alternating color pattern typically seen in townhouses, intended to provide a more residential and homelike feel to the properties. Community amenities include a shared community space that opens to an outdoor pergola-covered patio, bike racks, ample parking, and private entries.

Rolling Sage provides 23 quality two-bedroom homes, all with a full suite of high-efficiency appliances, upgraded flooring, a private patio, and spacious bathrooms with in-unit washers and dryers. Many homes include stunning views of the Cascade Mountain Range and provide spectacular sunsets Central Oregon is known for throughout the year.

Canyon Edge Apartments, Redmond

Centrally located within Oregon’s high desert communities and home to the fourth-largest commercial service airport in Oregon, Redmond has long been known as the “hub” of Central Oregon. Being close to Bend, Redmond’s population and business community have thrived. With vacancy rates well below the U.S. average, the Canyon Edge Apartments was a welcome addition. The mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes provides 67 spacious affordable homes to the Redmond community.

The location of the new housing development was chosen purposefully within an established multifamily neighborhood with easy access to schools, grocery stores, parks, transportation, and other essential family resources. Built on a combined three acres of land, Canyon Edge includes a North and South location, separated by Reindeer Avenue, the main thruway for neighborhood traffic flow to Redmond’s nearby amenities.

The North property includes a single 27,450 s.f., three-story building providing 29 two- and three-bedroom homes ranging from 884 s.f. to 1,039 s.f. in size. The building includes an onsite management office, private outdoor patios with storage, a community playground, and large windows to bring in ample amounts of daylight. Well-lit walking paths connect residents to their homes from the parking lot. The exterior design drew inspiration from townhomes with vertical and horizontal siding patterns to break down the scale of the building and colors inspired by Central Oregon’s natural elements.

Canyon Edge’s South development includes two three-story buildings providing 33,931 s.f. of affordable housing as a mix of 38 spacious one-, two-, and three-bedroom open floorplan homes ranging from 658 s.f. to 1,039 s.f. They are equipped with long-lasting amenities consistent with both the North property and Rolling Sage in Madras. The exterior design mimics the North property, tying the two developments together in the neighborhood. The south space includes a courtyard with landscaping and outdoor seating for resident gatherings.

During construction, the team at Red Canyon in Redmond had a chance to give a tour and speak about construction to the members currently attending Heart of Oregon Corps’ YouthBuild program. Youthbuild provides low-income young people opportunities for completing educational milestones, earning on-the-job skills, and helping serve the community.

The group had an opportunity to walk through the project, spanning two sites across Reindeer Ave. Youthbuild members were able to observe multiple trades working together through communication and scheduling to complete project objectives.

COVID-19 hit the construction industry hard, but R&H responded swiftly. During the initial phases of the pandemic, R&H quickly pivoted to address rapidly changing safety concerns. With the development of our “Plan, Prepare, Respond” plan, we continued to operate throughout the pandemic safely. Our response to COVID-19 has included forming a COVID-19 Task Force, creating a COVID-19 Response plan, enhancing internal and external communications. R&H launched a COVID-19 resource page where team members, clients, and subcontractors can find the plan, documents, and signage needed to ensure safety on all projects. Our initiative to create this plan quickly resulted in minimal impact on the project due to COVID-19. Our team was able to adapt specifically on Canyon Edge and Rolling Sage to address COVID through the utilization of LEAN planning to ensure that only one trade was working within any designated area at one time.

I think the R&H team worked well together and went to extraordinary lengths to get the project done during many difficult situations, such as COVID-19.
Melanie Whedon, Project Architect, Pinnacle Architecture

Housing in High Demand

Although repeatedly regarded as one of the top places to live in the U.S., finding available, affordable housing in Central Oregon is an escalating challenge. With vacancy rates distressingly low for Madras and Redmond, well below the U.S. average, many renters are burdened by housing costs and availability. Renters make up a little over 50% of the Madras population and 42% of the community of Redmond, a rising suburb of Bend.

By using materials that provide the most value to the project, fast-tracking the preconstruction schedule, and partnering with community members, this project successfully provided additional housing integrated within both communities.

As affordable housing properties, the Madras and Redmond communities will provide rental pricing well below the market rate relevant to both areas. They will be income-restricted to households at or below 60% of area median income, some units at 30% of area median income.

Both projects were designed and constructed simultaneously and kicked off in October of 2019. While the requirements to continue construction throughout the COVID pandemic and devastating wildfires produced unforeseen challenges, the team successfully completed both projects through close collaboration with Housing Works, Pinnacle, and R&H.

The team navigated through rapidly changing safety conditions and increased subcontractor availability challenges successfully while ensuring the safety and health of our employees and trade partners. Despite small delays in Redmond, the overall project was delivered in-line with the entire team’s expectations for a quality, longstanding development.

Groundbreaking in MadrasGroundbreaking in Madras

The Red Canyon portfolio was financed primarily with 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits and a Local Innovation and Fast Track (LIFT) loan, awarded the year before breaking ground. Both sources of financing come from a housing finance agency, Oregon Housing and Community Services.

In addition to approved funding, the City of Madras provided support during the planning and permitting phase. They donated an acre of land adjacent to the project designated for a community park. The community space will connect Rolling Sage to the nearby Canyon East Apartments.

R&H Construction, Pinnacle Architecture, and Housing Works have partnered on over 200 units of award-winning housing projects in Central Oregon. Housing Works is the local housing authority for Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson counties and the largest affordable housing developer in Central Oregon. Housing Works’ mission is “fostering dignity through housing.” R&H, Pinnacle, and Housing Works share a commitment to providing exceptional service and creating quality housing for our community.